Ode to My Whiteness

(After Evie Shockley)

You were invisible to me.
You went without saying.
You were my weapon secret from myself.
Whatever I got, you helped get it for me.
You were my ignorance.
Because of you I was not innocent.
I did not see that—you were my blinding light.
My dreams had a blank area in the center,
taking up most of the screen they played on in my sleep—
a blazing circle that blanked out the core of the scene.
I thought it was my mother’s violence,
but it was you, too.
You the unseen fat which fed me in the wilderness.
You my masonic handshake.
You my stealth.
You my drone.
You my collaborator.
You my magician’s cloak of steam,
you my dissembler.
You mine?  I yours,
irisless eyeball, you my blindness,
inspiration of my helpless act,
you my silence.  Evie’s blackness
a dancer, you another, the two of you moving together.

“Ode to Whiteness” from Odes by Sharon Olds. Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Olds. Originally published by Alfred A. Knopf. Used with the permission of the poet.

This poem was originally read in the On Being episode “Odes to the *****.”